Draghi wants new Italian airline launched before the summer

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ROME - Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Thursday he hoped a new state-owned airline, dubbed ITA, would be launched before the summer, adding it was important that it should survive without state subsides.

Industry Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said last week that talks with the European Commission over how to restructure ailing carrier Alitalia through the launch of ITA were stalled and the government needed a new plan to keep it in business.

"We are in the middle of negotiations with the commission. We cannot accept unjustified asymmetries. If there are reasons to treat Alitalia worse than Air France we will look into it and we will not accept arbitrary discrimination," Draghi told reporters.

France announced at the weekend that it had reached the outline of a deal with the Commission on a state-backed refinancing package to help strengthen Air France-KLM’s balance sheet.

Italian media have questioned whether Alitalia was being treated differently to Air France by the Commission.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante and Gavin Jones; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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